Friday, December 23, 2005
What is "Official" Mormon Doctrine? (Part 3)

When seeking to understand Mormon doctrine, knowing the written Scriptures of the LDS church is not enough. Mormons have no concept of a closed canon (in fact, they tend to ridicule such an idea). There are other ways in which Latter-day Saint teachings are established.

The Second Level: Official Statements from Presidency

The ninth Article of Faith states, "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." For Mormons, God continues to reveal himself and his ways to them. Fundamentally, this revelation comes through the living prophet and president of the church. Thus, official statements by LDS prophets as well as official statements by the First Presidency are authoritative for Mormons. They should also be consulted when examining Mormon beliefs.

The Third Level: Material from the Presidency and General Conference Statements

Materials that are produced by the First Presidency of the LDS church itself with the intent of teaching church members what they believe should also be considered as accurate and helpful sources of church doctrine. One very important book in this regard is Gospel Principles.

Additionally, statements by general authorities during the church's general conferences carry a lot of weight. Since all church members are supposed to watch these general conferences, and since these conferences provide a platform for LDS church leaders to address members, what these authorities say is often important in the beliefs of Latter-day Saints.

The Fourth Level: Other Statements from General Authorities

Once we get down to the fourth level, the authoritativeness can be relatively low. Nevertheless, the general authorities tend to be highly regarded by church members. With this in mind, what they say and write outside of general conferences can also be influential.

The Fifth Level: Other Writings

Some models do not include a fifth level. Nevertheless, I believe that such a level exists in the lives of many Mormons. While these writings may have no "official" authority within the church, some Mormons may see them as authoritative in some sense. As an example, we have already seen that many Latter-day Saints have looked to McConkie's Mormon Doctrine for a summary of their beliefs. Others draw heavily from contemporary Mormon scholars and apologists. We cannot assume that all Mormons believe what is written at this level, but we can recognize that Mormons often will turn to others in having their beliefs explained and defended.

The Solution

This "hierarchy of authority" provides a strategy for understanding, examining, and critiquing Mormon doctrine. It also allows us to keep various LDS material in perspective. With these levels in mind, I hope that we can accurately discuss, debate, and refute the claims of the LDS church while pointing Mormons to the true Jesus Christ.

(I have based my hierarchy on James R. White, Is the Mormon My Brother? Discerning the Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity, 23-42. To see this kind of model implemented, see Cky Carrigan's PhD dissertation, "An Assessment and Critique of the Distinctive Christology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).")

(Originally posted at the A-Team Blog: )

posted at 3:00 AM  

About Me


I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

My Complete Profile

About My Blog
  • Why I am the Reformed Baptist Thinker

  • Recent Posts
  • What is "Official" Mormon Doctrine? (Part 2)

  • What is "Official" Mormon Doctrine? (Part 1)

  • President Hinckley on Joseph Smith

  • Meet John Divito

  • Should We Critique Mormonism? (Part 2)

  • Should We Critique Mormonism? (Part 1)

  • Do We Need Apologetics?

  • Richard Bushman Interview

  • Richard Dawkins Interview

  • The Trauma of Abortion

  • Reformed Links
  • The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
  • The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America
  • Discerning Reader
  • Founders Ministries
  • The Gospel Coalition
  • Monergism
  • Nicene Council
  • The Reformed Baptist Theological Review
  • Reformation 21
  • The Spurgeon Archive
  • Third Millennium Ministries
  • Together for the Gospel
  • John Frame and Vern Poythress
  • Sam Waldron

  • Apologetics Links
  • Mormonism Research Ministry
  • Truth in Love Ministry
  • Centers for Apologetics Research
  • LifeWay Apologetics
  • Alpha and Omega Ministries

  • Blogroll
  • The A-Team Blog
  • Illumination
  • Mormon Coffee
  • Pros Apologian
  • Pulpit Magazine
  • Pyromaniacs
  • Reformation 21 Blog
  • Reformed Baptist Fellowship
  • Said at Southern
  • Together for the Gospel Blog
  • Tom Ascol
  • Les Bollinger
  • Denny Burk
  • Tim Challies
  • Steve Cowan
  • Jeff Downs
  • Bob Kauflin
  • Kevin Larson
  • Albert Mohler Commentary
  • Albert Mohler Blog
  • Russell Moore
  • Jonathan Moorhead
  • Matt Perry
  • David Sills
  • Justin Taylor
  • Brent Thomas
  • Joe Thorn
  • Paul Tripp
  • Keith Walker

  • Labels
  • Apologetics
  • Book Reviews
  • Christianity and Culture
  • Emerging Church and Postmodernism
  • Missions
  • Mormonism
  • Puritans
  • Theology
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • Personal Life
  • Personal Ministry
  • Other Resources

  • Miscellaneous

    Subscribe to Reformed Baptist Thinker

  • December 2005

  • January 2006

  • February 2006

  • March 2006

  • April 2006

  • May 2006

  • June 2006

  • July 2006

  • August 2006

  • September 2006

  • October 2006

  • November 2006

  • December 2006

  • January 2007

  • February 2007

  • March 2007

  • April 2007

  • May 2007

  • June 2007

  • July 2007

  • August 2007

  • September 2007

  • October 2007

  • November 2007

  • December 2007

  • March 2008

  • Credits
    Blog Design by:

    Powered by:

    Image from: